Honu

Smearing warm spit on my dive mask, almost over the fact this is gross—at least it’s my spit. The guy at the dive shop says saliva is the best at keeping the glass fog-free. (easily accessed, abundantly available, he says)

The mouth piece of the snorkel tastes salty when I bite it, freshly rinsed in the Pacific Ocean, sealing salt chuck out and breathing air in. Wet feet wriggle into black rubber flippers—big as clown feet—walking backwards into the crashing surf.

“You okay Grampa?”

My three year old granddaughter watches me disappear in the deep, hands exclamation marks on the side of her face.

Face down, shadow gliding along the contours of the landscape below like it was 30,000 feet to the ocean floor. Paddling gently, arms limp at my side, breathing through artificial means, see other watery-world through skin-dive mask, sunlight bent and diffused, soft and flickering. Electric blue dirigibles drift in the saltwater current, scales shimmering like they were lit from inside. I track fish observing their stammering stutter stop-start rhythm. First ebb, then flow. Influence of the sea profound, pervasive, unstoppable. I imagine me a wide body aircraft held aloft by some principle other than Bernoulli.  To my left, a flicker of incoming wide body in peripheral vision looming into my flight path on collision course. Wide body adjusting vector avoiding collision now running parallel to me. He drops altitude staying near enough to monitor my progress. We cruise perfectly synched. The pilot examines me with a big black eye. His exterior perfectly fit geometric tiles—black-green— held together with light green grout. Honu—Hawaiian green sea turtles—this one is as big as the hood of my truck. The tile work on his back looks covered in moss.

Another wide body same type but smaller model pulls in rolling starboard, tucking in the draft of the bigger one beneath me. We maintain unspoken mutually agreed space between us, cruising shore contour. Every few meters the lead craft diving, sweeping wing strokes, snatching edible bits from ocean floor returning to altitude. He reminds me of cross country skiers, push, glide…push glide—looking effortless.

We fly above sandstorm on floor. Each ebb and flow of saltwater stirring mini tornados and intermittent hurricanes shifting the contours below. The underwater sea-wind blowing tops off recently formed sand mountains, extending and deepening valleys.  Each ebb and flow altering landscape.

I feel at once dragged out to see by the heels in ebb, then grasped by the neck and seat of my pants and hurled head first by the watery flow splashing through double saloon doors tumbled out onto the street to be dragged back by the heels and hurled again. Me—without effort— experiencing the power of the pacific. Short term amphibian, underwater for a time but must return soon to land.

Leaving Honu, adjusting flaps, I bank circling hard, tailwind of seawater-wall pushing me ashore.

“You okay Grampa?”

Removing clown feet, rinsing snorkel and mask.

“Let me tell you about the time I flew with Honu…”

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